India’s antitrust watchdog has ordered an investigation into allegations that Google abused Android’s dominant position in the country’s smart TV market. The news comes hours after the European Union launched a formal antitrust investigation into allegations that Google abuses its dominant role in the ad-technology sector.
The Competition Commission of India, which began investigating these allegations last year, said in its preliminary review that Google violated certain anti-competition laws. It may take quarters, if not more than a year, to resolve an inquiry of this scale.
“The Commission is of the prima facie opinion that by making the pre-installation of Google owned Apps (particularly the Play Store) conditional on signing the ACCs (Android Compatibility Commitments) for all Android devices manufactured/distributed/marketed by the device manufacturers Google has reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices running alternative versions of Android, i.e., Android forks, and thus to prejudice consumers in violation of Section 4(2)(b). limits technical or scientific developments relating to goods or services to the extent of the Act,” the watchdog said in its 24-page order.
“Furthermore, the ACC prohibits OEMs from manufacturing/distributing/selling any other device that works on a competing forked Android operating system. Therefore, given Google’s dominance in the relevant markets and the apparent network effects, based on this restriction, developers of such forked Android operating systems are denied market access resulting in section 4(2)(c) of the Act. is violated.
Google, which considers India its biggest market by users and committed to invest $10 billion in the country last year, denied any wrongdoing. “We are confident that our smart TV licensing practices are in compliance with all applicable competition laws,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
The Competition Commission of India said it found that Google requires television makers to pre-install all of its “must-have” apps and lacks the ability to pick and choose from options “imposing an unfair position on smart TV device makers”. and as such in contravention of section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act.
“This amounts to prima facie taking advantage of Google’s dominance in the Play Store to protect the respective markets such as online video hosting services offered by YouTube, etc., in contravention of section 4(2)(e) of the Act. All these aspects But a detailed investigation is needed.
About 8 million smart TV sets were sold in India in 2019, of which over 60% were powered by Google’s Android operating system.
It’s been a tough week for the American veterans in India. On Monday evening, the world’s second largest internet market proposed stricter e-commerce rules that could hurt Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart.
Tuesday’s order is the third ongoing antitrust investigation that India has opened against Google. Late last year, India’s antitrust watchdog launched an investigation into Google for allegedly abusing the dominant position of its App Store to promote its payments service in the South Asian nation.